Thursday, June 6, 2019

A summer of reading the classics with my kids...or at least I hope so :0

You know how it goes. You have a picture in your mind of what it will be like to summer with your school aged children:

You will cavort barefoot in the yard while eating popsicles. Baby goats might be involved. You will take adventurous road trips in which the children will never whine that they are bored.You will lounge in bathing suits under the sprinkler. You will grill delicious food, and sit in the garden reading the classics while drinks adorned with fresh mint sit by your side.

Or, well, maybe your vision isn't EXACTLY like mine, but ultimately they all involve your kids being well behaved and great sports about all of the activities you really want to do/will really make you feel like a parent who achieves actual worthwhile parenting goals. But it never turns out  QUITE that way.

We don't have a pool, or even a yard that lends itself to easily playing with balls of any kind. We live on an urban postage stamp and space is at a premium. Although we've had a sprinkler, it does little more than make our uneven backyard a swamp. Balls go over the fence with reckless abandon. Lacking a back deck or easy access to the back yard, grilling only takes place in the kitchen and often involves the smoke detector going off. The kids still want to play video games far too much of the time. All road trips involve whining. And getting them to read over the summer is like pulling teeth.

It's a keeping-it-real kind of post today. 😂

As a librarian, I take the reading thing pretty seriously. Henry has always been a great reader, but this past school year he has not read anything on his own, just things he had to read for school. Anne has struggled a bit with reading, and goes weekly to the school reading specialist. She has improved significantly, but it's especially important for her to keep reading over the summer. She, however, has decided that she only wants to read books that are well below her reading age level, probably because they are easier for her to read.

I read most of the C.S. Lewis Narnia series with Henry when he was Anne's age or a year or two older, and we both loved them. My attempt to start up The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe with Anne at bedtime ended in an attitude-y declaration that she wasn't enjoying the story. I've sent a bunch of samples to her Kindle, and I'm hoping to go through them with her to find something she is enthused by, though I sense that the problem is just her own stubbornness, which is tougher to fix than finding a story that catches her fancy. But at any rate, the selections include (she will be in 3rd grade in the fall):

Harriet the Spy
The Secret Garden (available for free on Kindle if you're a Prime member, fyi)
Charlotte's Web
The Princess and the Goblin
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
Ballet Shoes

I remember several of these books from my own childhood, and they are quite nostalgic for me! I don't mind reading the fairy series that she favors, but goodness, I need a break from the monotonous, fixed plotlines you find in those books. :0 I like the summer to have a "theme," if you will, in terms of reading. Harry Potter, summer thrillers, maybe classical mysteries. For Anne, I want her to embark on books of substance, classics or otherwise nostalgic childhood reads from my own lifetime. For Henry, I just want him to read...something. Something that he enjoys, to get him back into reading for pleasure again. He read And Then There Were None with his literature class, and this morning expressed an interest in Murder on the Orient Express, which I immediately jumped on in full enthusiasm. :0

And Agatha Christie -along summer!

*party time!*

What are you planning to read this summer? Do you have suggestions for getting kids interested in reading more classical books? I'm all ears in the comments!


  1. I just started "My Dear Hamilton". I am enjoying it. It has a lot of history mixed in the story. I am learning things I was not aware of concerning Alexander Hamilton. As far as The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe goes it seems Anne and my twin sister and I are only a few people who did not enjoy The Chronicles Of Narnia. I would recommend Anne of Green Gables series, Little House on the Prairie series, American Girl original series,Dear America, Betsy Tacy series,All of a Kind Family and The Moffetts.

    1. Hi Marilyn! Your book sounds really good! I'm reading a Love Inspired Suspense title that is actually set near Buffalo. It has an Amish theme, and is very fun! Well, at least Anne isn't the only one, though I suspect that her opinion may change when she gets older! We've read most of the Little House series, and she did love that. The American Girl books are a great suggestion! I'll look into the others as well. :) I own a copy of the first Anne of Green Gables book, but she's resisted that as well. :-/

  2. Reading with kids - I feel your pain at how a summer can fizzle into a lot of battles. :( Does your local library have any type of summer reading program? A lot of kids are competitive and they have great prizes . . . also lots of fun programs. We used to do a lot of those when the nieces and nephews were little. My summer reading is a lot of different stuff . . . whatever looks good! I've discovered a series of books by a publisher called Annie's Attic that feature a lot of crafts . . . they are put out by Guideposts books. Am loving those! I'm also reading a lot of self help about people who overcome a lot of things . . . and as always, a lot of YA and mid-grade books.

    1. Hi Donna! Our library does, but they're always during the day when I'm working. Also, OMG on the Annie's Attic books, I have those!! My mil got at least one of them for me, and I have never read them. I should dive in!

  3. PS - Have you thought of Graphic Novels for Anne? They are condensed versions of books but may be more palatable with little print.

    1. oo, a great idea! She does like those "Press Start" books, which are in that vein.


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